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Development of Competence 
in Dynamic Learning Environments 

Inger Bierschenk 

2001 No. 79 

Cognitive Science Research 

Lund University 
University of Copenhagen 

Editorial board 

Bernhard Bierschenk (editor), Lund University 
Inger Bierschenk (co-editor), University of Copenhagen 
Ole Elstrup Rasmussen, University of Copenhagen 
Helge Helmersson (adm. editor), Lund University 
Jorgen Aage Jensen, Danish University of Education 

Cognitive Science Research Adm. editor 

Copenhagen Competence Helge Helmersson 

Research Center Dep. of Business Adm. 

University of Copenhagen Lund University 

Njalsgade 88 P.O. Box 7080 

DK-2300 Copenhagen S S-220 07 Lund 

Denmark Sweden 

Contents Page 

Summary 4 

1. Competence as Social Concern 5 

2. Measuring Learning Processes 6 

3. Studies from the Public and Private Sectors 9 

3. 1 The Patient 9 

3.2 The Financial Manager of a Community 10 

3.3 The Regional Actors 10 

3.4 The Co-operatives 1 1 

3.5 The Ideologists 11 

3.6 The Managing Directors 12 

3.7 The Consumers 12 

3.8 The Mechanics 13 

4. Preconditions for a New Research Program 14 

4.1 Demarcation and Specification 15 

4.2 From Macro to Micro Level 18 

5. Toward a Theory of Materials Construction 

in the Humanities and Social Sciences 18 

5.1 The Knowing of a Behaviourist 19 

5.2 The Hidden Competence 20 

5.3 The Natural Scientist and the Question of Education 21 

5.4 The Measurement of an Idea in Function 21 

6. References 22 

Author's Note 26 


In an information rich society like ours there is a demand for a steadily ongoing 
discussion and research of the way people in various functions develop and maintain their 
competence. Competence has become a word of fashion and although everybody thinks that 
they know what competence is, nobody can tell how it may be measured. The traditional 
definitions of the word rest on properties that are equal to knowledge and qualifications. 
Therefore, when it comes to a measuring procedure, intelligence tests or questionnaires will 
most often be used, which cannot get at the strategy of synthesising, the typical ability of a 
competent person. Some measuring instrument has not existed - until now. Its name is 
Perspective Text Analysis and is the main constituent of the research reviewed here and the 
program proposed. 

Perspective Text Analysis has been applied in various learning environments and the 
results have shown the way in which persons in different functions adapt their thinking and 
action to the situational constraints. Such a constraint is reducing a person's quality of life 
considerably. Studies have made it evident, however, that a society may have a high quality of 
life, even though it may not seem so on the social surface. Those citizens, who conceive of the 
deeper dimensions of a society are competent and can provide their society with competence, 
transformed to quality of life. By means of theoretically founded models of social systems 
other studies have illustrated that (1) various models will be differently comprehended by 
different individuals and groups. They also show that (2) the comprehension of social 
properties is not the same when the model society is presented in the form of pure literature 
but (3) may be developed through training. 

A conclusion of import to the continuous work is that it is the quality in the 
instructional materials that will be crucial for competence development. Against this 
background the purpose of the proposed program for competence development is to analyse 
text materials as to their conceptual relations, so that they can be governing in learning 
situations. A hypothesis is that the quality of a learning environment is independent of 
external factors. It is the materials that constitute that environment. A theory of the 
construction of materials for the humanities and social sciences is proposed as a new field of 

The starting-point for studies in the new scientific field is a test material, which 
contains texts that are grouped according to degree of difficulty in comprehension (level). The 
degrees are connected to three commonly accepted scientific models, which build on the 
conceptual relations of the Behaviourism, the Cybernetics, and the Gestalt psychology 
respectively. Texts related to the models have been analysed in depth and specified as to 
quality. The materials thus fixed was then compared to texts written by students, with the 
purpose to define the student's knowing or competence, since there is a theoretical ground for 
it. By means of the theory of materials construction the effects of a learning process can be 
made explicit, that is what somebody knows. The final part of this article gives some 
examples of prototypical studies, of which the results will be concluded. They show some 
possible lines to follow when one wishes to introduce a humanistically based theory of 
materials into various learning and judgement situations. 

1. Competence as Social Concern 

In public discussions, 'competence' and 'competence development' cannot be avoided 
today. The educational sector has for a long time focussed upon both concepts and they form 
the basis for reformation at several levels. The industry is another area within which matters 
of competence have become important for survival. One reason is of course the rapid 
development of the IT sector and the European and global integration connected with it. 
However, among the companies there are different views on what competence is and the way 
it should be taken into consideration. The problem becomes acute when it comes to recruiting 
leaders. Nowadays it is not longer self-evident that graduates in economics, technologists, and 
administrators are the most fitted leaders of a company. Similarly it has become obvious that 
many of the most common works require another competence today than what was the case 
only a decade ago. A novel element in work life is further a high degree of participating and 
self-management, which calls for both knowledge and integrity, not to speak of the ability to 
overview and foresight. The employers are responsible that the workers and other personnel 
are carrying out tasks that correspond to their ability and that they can develop in their job. 
Humans as resource is more and more stressed (Forskningsradene, 1997) and to be able to 
use this resource fully every human's ability to competent actions needs to be examined and 

A matter of import is that the sharing of work between the genders can be developed 
in co-operation with the rest of the society. As it is now, we know that women have a double 
workload to a far higher extent than men have, which is very much depending on the fact that 
the typical female professions have inflexible working-hours. To support flexibility here 
would set female resources free, which would counterbalance the gender specific work 
market. Other groups are also focussed upon, as for example workers over 55 years of age. 
The discussion concerns whether seniors can contribute enough or not to the development of a 
work place. Luckily enough, society has begun to appreciate age as a potential and to take an 
interest in which kind of competence the seniors have and how it may be made useful in the 
work life. Researchers are telling us that competence develops with the synthesising ability, 
and thus it is not enough developed in the younger generation. 

The introduction of information technology into various areas is the reason for 
thinking new within several sectors. Within health care, organisational changes have taken 
place through the introduction of computers for booking, payment, and registration of 
patients. The more IT training and experience the health service personnel get, the greater the 
distance to the patients. This could at least be the formulation of a research question. The 
acquisition of novel things within health care and service has its special conditions, since the 
processes are going on in collaboration with those who will profit from the service. The 
internationalisation of the service sector is a similar area, in which the concept of competence 
has been given a special weight. Which human resources are the desired ones are defined 
from out of which technical innovations are made and the service function concerned. 

Within the industrial sector there is also work going on for reforming the production in 
a direction, which will be fruitful for the people who are producing. A question that the 
management must be able to answer is whether the power of competition of the company and 
its human power are working in phase or not. One area of development is the design of 
production systems, which support the human resources and not the technological. A well 
functioning industrial company today should further be aware of the social situation, although 
many of them are not. It puts a stress on both productivity and wellbeing, if re-organisations 
are made without the participation of all the employees concerned. It may seem as these times 
of authoritative management have gone but a manifold of stress-related diseases that we are 
facing today are to a high degree a result of insensitive, that is incompetent management. 

However, there are employers, both private and public, who take the matters of 
democracy seriously. For example, schools are places where it will have great consequences 
for the students, if the teachers have no possibility to have an influence on their work 
situation. To develop the teachers' qualifications and competence without knowledge of their 
wishes is an all too common strategy, though. For the same reason as the students can 
influence their educational situation and ways of working, of course also their teachers should 
be given this possibility. The teaching profession is one of the most intensive, in a 
developmental perspective, but it faces today a decrease in participation and understanding 
from the part of the employers. When the focus is on changes in school, it is always re- 
organisation that counts. Younger teachers, who do not have the overview of the older 
colleagues, can not stand the social pressure and get sick or leave school as working place. 
Thus there is much to develop in this sector. 

The consequences of the development of human resources may have an effect on the 
way people conceive of their spare time. Welfare, democracy and the possibility to influence 
the job may also have positive effects on the way people conceive of other qualities in life 
than the job. To care about one's spare time is important for one's general wellbeing, for sure. 
That such a quality of life could be connected with competence will probably seem new to 
most people. But to develop people's feeling for the relationship between work time and spare 
time will help them to take care about their working free hours in a better way to 
counterbalance the increasing stress on the job. In this way the chance to a de-stressed spare 
time will increase in pace with the development of the single individual's possibility to use his 
resources efficiently 

Within all the above mentioned areas of society, "thinking human" is in focus but no 
research effort so far has been able to point at a way of measuring it or developing it. 

2. Measuring Learning Processes 

Typical of all modern societies are developmental trends, which are rapidly changing. 
A consequence of this dynamics of change is that the pressure to create effective 
environments for learning increases on both public educational systems and the production 
systems of the industry. However, what an effective learning environment within a sector of 
the school system, the university, or the industry means is hardly well defined. In what way 
the different sectors can create effectivity in preparing people for a professional/work life and 
the way they can train and retrain the already professionally busy depends entirely on what 
society can offer in the form of incentives. 

From time immemorial, the design of learning environments has been basically the 
same as now and instruction has been carried on according to the didactical triangle, which 
builds on the presence of a teacher, a student, and a subject. Means for rising knowledge 
within this generic (teacher-student-subject) relation has with shifting disciplines and shifting 
times been concentrated on the development of methods, which would increase the 
effectiveness of some of the components. From the middle of the 20 th century, methods for 
measuring teaching effectiveness have been developed, which are based on mathematical- 
statistical models adapted to study especially the quantitative aspects of the system. Education 
research has thus tried to establish principles for empirical analysis and the construction of 
mathematical models for a study of the effects of education on learning as a process that 
generates competence. 

The ability to acquire skills and to develop competence is the main survival function 
making it possible for living organisms to deliberate themselves from the constraining 
mechanisms that may be built into a system or to overcome marginalisation processes at the 
working place. The importance of learning both for the survival of the single individual and of 

society will not be questioned by anyone and many people have contributed to the issue with 
trying to find out its characteristic properties and ways of functioning. A manifold of 
definitions, theoretical approaches, and methods have been proposed, to begin with in 
psychology and during the last decades in artificial intelligence and neurology. But so far 
nobody has been able to give a satisfactory explanation of a learning process. It is possibly 
due to the fact that any appropriate measuring instrument has not been developed. 

Many studies of learning are based on the classical procedures in research 
methodology, which were originally created by R. A. Fisher. More precisely this means that 
all participating subjects in an experiment are treated as equal as possible. Individual 
differences, if any, are regarded as source of error in the attempt to generate the well-known 
learning curves. As a consequence, education research has never been able to mediate 
anything of import to the single teacher's professional exercise. Reliable information is 
usually missing, which could be used for answering questions about the way ordinary people 
are mastering a learning process or the way learning generally comes about. Thus the public is 
now and then provided with summed-up statistics of education and measurements of 
preferences for one and the other of common opinions of how learning might occur. What 
seems to be quite clear to everybody is that education research has not been able to contribute 
with anything that may be a foundation for an elementary description of what constitutes a 
learning process. Further, this research has not been able to contribute with a reliable 
description of the interactions that create the quality of the didactic triangle. 

The traditional instrument for measuring preferences is the questionnaire, which is 
based on the kind of interaction lying in a question and an answer. The linguistic formulations 
in such a questionnaire are founded on the fact that the one who asks is the one who knows 
and the one who answers is the one who makes himself subordinated (I. Bierschenk, 1989). 
The language carries the consciousness of this super and subordination, which unconsciously 
has an influence on a subject's way of conducting itself to the "questioner" of the form. Volvo 
mechanics' conduct to a so-called open question in a survey about the service materials of the 
company has been studied. It was obvious that Swedish and English mechanics are 
subordinating themselves to the questioner/company, whereas German, Italian, and American 
mechanics are autonomous in their responding behaviour (I. Bierschenk, 1987b). (More about 
this study in section 3.7.) This means that questionnaires of all kinds will probably not get at 
the respondent's attitudes for the reason that the answer is more or less bound to the question, 
which not all respondents being exposed to it are able to disregard. When the same model is 
used for an examination of learning or competence, it should not be surprising that it is the 
well-adapted students who will do best. But the really competent ones may slip out of the net. 

Perspective Text Analysis is a method developed for the measurement of competence 
development, that is, learning. It has been in progress for twenty five years by now and is the 
most objective method that exists, in a natural science sense of the word (e. g. Bierschenk & 
Bierschenk, 1993; Bierschenk, Bierschenk & Helmersson, 1996; B. Bierschenk, 1991, 1997; 
I. Bierschenk, 1999a). With natural science is meant a certain conduct. The method is 
radically different from other language and text analysis methods in that it does not build on 
fragmentation but on the analysis of wholes, although without interpreting anything. It makes 
a synthesis of the human perspective, the way it emerges at the moment when a text is 
produced and at the same time, it crystallises specificity. In that by this method it is possible 
to say something about the general in the specific, the usual statistically based methodological 
arsenal becomes superfluous. 

A first hint of what is meant by perspective as basis for the measurement of learning or 
competence is to be found in Bierschenk & Bierschenk (1993). The article reports on the 
testing of the theoretical outline of an ecological theory of perception reflected in language. It 
presents a study in which it turns out that the attitudes, and personal interests in life, helps to 

"position" the person in front of a situation. Thus when the person looks at a situation in his 
environment and reports on it verbally, he uses language cues, which structures the 
environment differently depending on whether his attitudes are formed by aesthetic-moral, 
social, caring, practical, or physical-technical interests. The result is not in itself very 
surprising or even noteworthy, were it not for the method used. This study may be regarded as 
prospective, because before one can measure some learning or competence one has to take 
into account the pre-stage of 'inter esse'. 

Whether girls show a feeling for technology has been an urgent theme in school for a 
long time. In the beginning of the 90's, a study in connection with lecturing in French in a 
technical gymnasium was carried out concerning the understanding of an apparatus for 
measuring the physical phenomenon of depth perception. As material for the study the 
pictures reproduced by the experimenters (Gibson & Walk, 1960, p. 65) were used. Four 
times during a school year, the students were given the task to describe their understanding of 
this technical device in the form of a narrative. Two female twins were then selected for the 
study. The question concerned the way in which twins, who are supposed to have identical 
biological preconditions, develop in a learning situation. (A description of design and 
procedure is given in B. Bierschenk, 1995b). The texts were analysed by means of Perspective 
Text Analysis, which is capable of getting at the underlying structure. 

The two twin girls produced a fairly similar text, seen to the kinetic level, which is the 
one that a teacher can judge. Their achievement as a whole was similar, as judged from the 
grading. However, with the new method another relationship could be shown: At the 
kinematic level the twins were different. One perceived the analytical properties in the design 
and use of the technical apparatus whereas the other had a social perspective in her text and 
perceived the consequences of the use of this apparatus. With this knowledge it would have 
been interesting to know which career the girls choose when they quit school. 

A study of another female pair has been reported by Elstrup Rasmussen (1997a). The 
educational situation was in this case psychology at Copenhagen University, where a BA- 
level examination paper was to be written. The students had the opportunity to select their co- 
writer, which should guarantee the best possible collaboration. The research question 
concerned the way collaborative work develops in this environment, which the students were 
to describe during the process, both the expected collaboration and the real. Perspective Text 
Analysis was the main method also in this study and the same kind of result emerged at the 
psychological level as at the biological. In this learning process it was evident that one partner 
develops a leadership, since she is competence oriented, whereas the other is more socially 
sensitive and develops toward administration of the task. 

A recent study from another teaching context in Denmark has been reported in Bang 
& Elstrup Rasmussen (2000). Two female students in physics participated in a process where 
the dialogue was to be governing for their problem solving strategy. In this case, the 
experimenter formed the pairs. The learning situation concerned the concept of 'resistance'. 
The dialogue was analysed by means of Perspective Text Analysis. The analysis showed that 
one of the students was knowledge oriented and eager to steer the process forward, while the 
other was concentrated on distracting and stressed the social aspects of the communication. 

What makes these three studies interesting is that they show that 'social competence' 
is a surface aspect of a communicative situation and has no value when it comes to acquisition 
and maintenance of knowledge. They further show that with a functional method we could get 
hold of the way different persons relate to learning. Then it would also be possible to arrange 
education with the purpose to put the responsibility of the learning on the student himself and 
not on the teacher, just as the modern trend goes (compare the discussion about evaluation in 
I. Bierschenk, 1999b). A study in the direction of modelling the relationship between 

qualifications and competence is going on (Elstrup Rasmussen & Jensen, 2000) in which one 
aim is to make students aware of their strategies in a learning task. 

Perspective Text Analysis is productive, that is, it is always posing novel problems 
and creates new theory. This special aspect of the method is fundamental to the research 
program put forward here. To begin with an overview will be given over some studies from 
the world of both the public and the private sectors, where the method has been used for 
synthesising the conceptualisations of individuals. 

3. Studies from the Public and Private Sectors 

A fundamental condition of the studies presented in the following is an extensive 
course activity, primarily on the doctoral level in business administration at the universities of 
Lund and Umea, where Bernhard Bierschenk, Helge Helmersson and myself have functioned 
as course managers. One of the doctoral courses was carried out at the Institute of Science and 
Technology at Lund University (see section 4.1). The doctoral students and other participants 
have contributed with problem areas and texts, which were analysed in the courses. Some of 
the analyses have been presented at Scandinavian conferences, partly in business 
administration in Bergen (Bierschenk & Bierschenk, 1986b), partly in economic psychology 
in Aarhus (B. Bierschenk, 1987a). They have also been presented in educational contexts, 
such as a conference in Graz, about educational policy in the new millennium (B. Bierschenk, 
1990b). Two doctoral students in business administration are users of the method in their 
dissertation work. A couple of studies are part of a larger project, others have been carried out 
in the form of a contract. 

A main assumption for the study of the development of competence is that two factors 
can be separated, namely one concerning an individual's ability to compete for making a 
living, and one concerning the individual's success in relating to a given social context, 
according to B. Bierschenk (1993). If both competition and success are allowed to vary in the 
interplay between the individual and an environment, co-ordinating strategies will develop, 
which are favourable for competence development. Its opposite would be a completely rigid 
situation, which instead is causing the marginalisation of the individual. In this field of 
tension some results will be described. The words marked in italic are structural concepts, 
which emanate from topological representations. 

3. 1 The Patient 

In the beginning of the 1980's, Kare Berglund at Lund University Hospital conducted 
a research project in which rheumatic patients participated. As part of the design structured 
interviews were carried out by psychologists, who with a therapeutic method would find out 
what happened to the patients during and after the medical treatment. One patient was 
selected for the perspective text analysis and was studied at three interview occasions. 

The information synthesis shows that at the first interview the patient thinks he is 
incapable of handling his environment because of the sickness. The rheumatism is limiting 
him, since he can only move at home or at the hospital. Therefore he must re-orient. However, 
he tries to have trust and cautious optimism to be able to survive in his new state. The second 
time the analysis shows that the patient has adapted to the action constraint. He feels less 
vulnerable and can see possible ways of mastering the state of the sickness so that 
rehabilitation may come about. What is evident in the patient's cognitive structure is the 
insight that he must contextualise himself to master the competence reduction of being a 
rheumatic. At the third occasion, the effects of the rehabilitation program are evident. The 
patient clearly shows how he has decided that the program shall be successful for him. He is 


now accepting the routines of the treatment and everything that belongs to the changes in life 
conditions. His text the third time has a deeper and broader structure. The concept of 
consensus is deepest embedded and shows that some kind of balance between himself and his 
environment has been reached. In the perspective of the patient it is now probable that he will 
adapt, so as to be in command of himself. 

In another clinical context, Magnus Larsson, a doctoral student in psychology, studied 
the way parents, especially mothers, have reacted to the birth of an impaired child. His main 
result is that mothers follow either an emotional or a methodological line of thinking as they 
relate their conceptualisations of the traumatic situation (Larsson, 1994). 

3.2 The Financial Manager of a Community 

Two doctoral students in business administration at Lund University, Goran Alsen and 
Anders Nilsson, had carried out an interview with a financial manager of a community in the 
north of Sweden at the beginning of the 1980's concerning his opinion of leadership and 
matters of policy. A section of this interview, in which the manager could talk freely, was 
analysed within the frame of a faculty course in Perspective Text Analysis the academic year 
1984/85. This text has been the subject of several studies, especially because it is authentic 
and thus not edited. Its first sentence is worded: 

"Look how the attitude is today, and it is not only among the community employees, 

most people think that I have my salary, why should I then help the community to 

think of how to save money, I don't give a damn." 
The two students had a feeling that something important was expressed at this place in the 
interview. Other course participants thought the section reminded of "sauna talk". But some 
general thinking does not help, Perspective Text Analysis could reveal what was hidden under 
the surface. Bierschenk & Bierschenk (1986a) account for the conceptual structure underlying 
the talking. 

It became obvious that the mental conduct of the financial manager oscillates between 
conformity- and locking aspects on the one hand and enterprising spirit and innovation on the 
other. He feels split between what the community responsibility makes of him and what he 
would like to be. In his perspective a functional fixation emerges, which he manages to 
structure, however, so that the result is liberation. When this analysis result was presented to 
the two doctoral students in the course, they told that this financial manager in fact had taken 
a step toward liberation, namely as a business owner. Perspective Text Analysis could hardly 
get a better external validation. 

3.3 The Regional Actors 

The doctoral students in business administration at Umea University, Margareta 
Paulsson and Ake Gabrielsson, have studied actors' conceptions and strategies for local 
development (Gabrielsson & Paulsson, 1989; 1996). By applying the Perspective Text 
Analysis on deep interviews of two dominating actors in two communities, Gabrielsson and 
Paulsson could show that two actors with similar background had different conceptual world. 
One is governed by concepts like acting in the present, instrumental rationality, enterprising 
and market adaptation. The other is governed by almost the opposite concepts, that is, history 
and future, value rationality, ecological actions and human - nature adaptation. 

The authors note that the two actors have different opinions about which means are to 
be used, that is, which problem solving strategies exist and which role society/community will 
have. Thus there is a clear connection between the conceptual world of the actors and the 
strategies they propose for the development of their communities, which could be fateful if 


the two communities in practice did not use the same method. The authors received the 
ANBAR-prize "Citation of Excellence" in 1996, "using Bierschenk's novel technique of 
perspective text analysis". 

3.4 The Co-operatives 

In the above mentioned faculty course, Gosta Wijk and Magnus Lagnevik from 
business administration in Lund participated. They contributed with an empirical material 
from their studies on consumer co-operatives in Sweden. The material was taken from 
Statens offentliga utredningar (1979, 1981). The text section analysed (by B. Bierschenk, 
1993) was judged to be the most significant policy statement within the co-operation. 

The policy means in short that the effectiveness of the co-operation lies in its ability to 
control the associations. The organisation and associations bind one another so that two 
growing power concentrations are formed. Thus the means that the co-operation has to its 
disposal are expressed in organisational analysis and unifying or uniforming. The proper 
basis for the policy is the purpose to draw the borderline for the co-operation and influence it 
ideologically, a reason why the basis coincides with the means. 

"Collective problem solving in co-operative companies" was the name of a project 
lead by Magnus Lagnevik and Helge Helmersson around 1986. As a part of the project, the 
text analysis method would be used (I. Bierschenk, 1987a). The study concerned Skanska 
Lantmannens Maskin AB (A co-operative for agricultural interests). 152 study circle leaders 
collected answers about how the company was conceived as a member organisation, the status 
of the solidarity among the members and how the trust to the company would increase. 

The cognitive process, the way it is expressed in the conceptual worlds of the 
members, is dominated by two concepts, collectivisation and bureaucratisation, which are 
counteracting the idea of co-operation. The most desired means to be adapted are co-operative 
strength and effectiveness. The reason or ground of this conceptualisation is a demand for 
ethics and a missing contextualisation, in other words, the organisation seems to act as if any 
members did not exist but only customers. In sum, the co-operation studies have shown that 
co-operation is desired but is brought to nothing by the efforts of organising the proper idea. 
Maybe it is an expression of the scientific problem of being able to separate between 
competition and co-operation within a group (Johnson, et al., 1981). 

3.5 The Ideologists 

Issues of religion were still at the beginning of the 1990's something belonging to the 
domains of the public. Two sociologists of religion, Curt Dahlgren in Lund and Petur 
Petursson in Reykjavik, took part in the faculty course in Perspective Text Analysis. Dahlgren 
(1990) studied missionaries' reasoning behind their preference of attending missionary 
schools. The common opinion is, according to Dahlgren, that reading stories in the missionary 
papers about the conversion of the heathens would be the reason why one tried to join the 
missionary corps, that is, one wants to go out and do good things. The analysis of a 
curriculum from an applicant gives on the surface the same information, but at a deep analysis 
it was evident that his personal salvation is in focus and the wish to deepen his salvation 
experience through increased awareness. Dahlgren draws the conclusion that in depth it is the 
education at the Evangeliska Fosterlandsstiftelsen (Evangelic Patriotic Foundation) 
missionary school that the curriculum writer is yearning for. 

Petursson's research area was the one that he coined, namely "civil religion". By this 
name he means the collaboration, taking place since the 1960's between ecclesiastical and 
profane authorities in Sweden. Petursson (1991) analysed speeches given by Olof Palme 


1965, 1968 and 1983, and the archbishops of the same times, namely Ruben Josefson 1968 
and OlofSundby 1983. 

The summary of the analysis shows that Palme's speech of 1965 is characterised by 
human rights, in 1968 it is international solidarity and in 1983 the non-utopian global 
planning. Archbishop Josefson's sermon in 1968 comprises the corresponding concepts at the 
religious level, as for example solidarity with the feeble and a general appeal to 
reconsideration. After a deep analysis of the speeches, only the year of 1968 seems to have 
been a time where there was a bridge of civil religion between church and politics. Sundby's 
talk from 1983 is traditional and non-problematic, as for example the meaning of God's 
kingdom on earth. Petursson's conclusion (p. 25) is that the close associations that could be 
noted by the end of the 1960's were not followed up on the ideological level. Palme and his 
archbishop went apart. 

3.6 The Managing Directors 

In 1991 Agneta Karlsson completed her doctoral thesis "Om strategi och legitimitet" 
(On strategy and legitimisation) (Karlsson, 1991). Among other things she studied annual 
reports from an energy company. Already in 1986 we got in contact and the method was 
tested on a portion of her material. The research question concerned whether strategies and 
visions for the future could be read out from annual reports. She was interested in the analysis 
of especially three reports, the ones from 1979, 1981 and 1983. However, in her thesis she did 
not use the results, so B. Bierschenk (1993) reported them. 

The quality in the conceptualisation of the manager of 1979 emerges through a derived 
consensus. He wants to have the possibility to make decisions according to the chosen 
strategy. This implies that he has a functioning administration behind him, so therefore the 
probability that he will be successful is high. As means for his strategic thinking calculation 
is evident and his goal is binding. The latter concept should be understood against a juridical 
background. The structure from 1979 forms the basis of a policy, which is founded on the 
idea that both individuals and companies respond with "perfect foresight" in front of 
economic incentives and warnings (Holler, 1982 p. 51). But it is not effective when it comes 
to adaptation to consumer factors. Therefore the company decided to re-orient and shifted the 
manager in favour of a person with another vision. 

The new manager's first annual report 1981 showed that a market adaptation had 
occurred. His report is characterised by competence, harmonising, sensitivity and 
consciousness. Thus he bridges the technical-economic aspects because of their focus on 
capital and investment. Instead the policy for industry production is given a morality 
component (compare Sperry's expression "morality is given priority over science", 1983). 
The goal is to secure synergy effects, which means a qualitative change of the properties 
standing for energy production. 1983 the managing director has some projects going on with 
autonomous units, which hopefully will contribute to afunctional synergy. However, he had 
to retire in favour of economic reality. 

3. 7 The Consumers 

In connection with courses in business administration on C-level, Helmersson (1997) 
has studied the consumer perspective in using Perspective Text Analysis on texts collected to 
compare preferences of the two Swedish organisations, "Konsum", which is a co-operative, 
and "ICA", which is private. The texts produced contained customers' motivations for their 
choice of daily store. The results show that the typical ICA customer acts stable; economic 
rationality and economic man are the most central concepts. The ICA customers further are 


associated with need for quality, thus they never go to Konsum. The customers of the co- 
operation, on the contrary, seek new orientation because they feel constraint by the co- 
operative traditions of the organisation, because of its lack of quality. Thus co-operation in 
change, loose frames, individual customer actions were conceptual outcomes typical of these 
customers. Typically they were prepared to go to shop at ICA, if necessary. 

In general, this result tells something about the image of the organisations and the 
direction in which they need to adapt to their customers. Trosslov Aronsson (1997) means that 
idealised images "attract people and draw their attention, but they also may create 
dissatisfaction and unhappiness" (p. 1). By using a projective technique she generated four 
consumers' (females) texts in connection with viewing idealised images in the advertisements 
of a chocolate product. The consumers wrote a short story about how they think people would 
perceive the advertisement in which they were models. The results analysed by means of 
Perspective Text Analysis could show that either the image reflects an idealised icon (as 
represented by divinity, sanctioned hedonism, and exhibitionism), or is regarded as 
manipulative (manipulation) depending on the consumer's projection. 

3.8 The Mechanics 

In the middle of the 1980's Volvo had problems with the information structure in its 
service manuals. A feeling that the mechanics conceived of the information differently 
depending on the country in which they worked made the company seek assistance from 
researchers, among others two doctoral students. A questionnaire had been distributed to 
garages in several countries, for example Sweden, West Germany, England, Italy and the 
USA. The final question was of a so-called open type, which on behalf of Volvo was analysed 
by means of Perspective Text Analysis. The report (Bierschenk & Bierschenk, 1987) could 
show that Volvo should adapt its service information depending on the country to which it 
shall be directed: 

Sweden. The conception of service information in Swedish mechanics shows that 
among them there is no interest in technical information whatsoever. Lack of quality, simple- 
mindedness and unsophistication are characterising their responses. The reason for this is the 
working climate. 

England. The English mechanics are to a higher extent prepared to do a job. 
Information quality is a key word, supported by service support and that the organisation of 
the information is important. In the depth lies a demand for greater coherence between the 
support and the service user. 

Germany. In Germany (West Germany, by the time of the study) it is self-evident 
that high quality service is a key word. The mechanics are anxious that they cannot maintain 
knowledge. For them a measurement of standard is the basis for the answers, which implies 
that the German mechanic wants to compare his skills with the new information in the service 
manuals to be as efficient as possible. 

Italy. To the Italian mechanic information structuring is a reason for being able to 
make a good job. He is not sure that he is sufficiently able and very much wants to acquire 
the necessary knowledge, he wants to be capable. Tutoring is asked for in Italian garages. 

USA. American Volvo mechanics means that the company does not authorise them 
sufficiently. They master the Volvo car and the service of it and are of the opinion that the 
company gives them insufficient information purposely. In the US, Volvo should re-organise 
its service information policy to recognise the ability of the single mechanic. Since the reason 
for the answer is that he expresses his unambiguous comprehension, he thinks that the 
company does not meet him with worthiness. 


4. Preconditions for a New Research Program 

There is a common conception that three distinct models can represent the qualities of 
a civilisation. The models were arrived at through an interdisciplinary conference on the 
building of modern society in Boulder, Colorado, in the beginning of the 1970's. Social and 
behaviour scientists, economists, and technologists conceived of these models as general. 
They were called Behaviour model, Growth (Process) model and Humanist (Structure) model 
respectively and were presented in an audio-visual material called "Projections for the future" 
(Biological Science Curriculum Study & Crystal Productions, 1976). 

However, it would not be sufficient to rely upon some general conception of existing 
models if one aims at using a material for scientific studies. B. Bierschenk (1978) in the 
construction of a simulator for the examination of strategies of behaviour could show that that 
these models really exist and are significantly distinguishable from one another. Further, the 
models are far more psychologically significant than would be expected from the Boulder 
discussion of their social relevance. In using an early version of Perspective Text Analysis 
Bierschenk & Bierschenk (1986c) indicated that scenes representing an environmental 
structure of the three model types will elicit action strategies, which could be assigned to the 
three models. Thus an environment may be reflected theoretically in individual actions. 

Since the end of the 1980's it has been an aim within the Cognitive Science Research 
Group in Lund to study quality of life and its dimensions, both in a psychological as in an 
economic and medical context. The analysis of a patient mentioned above shows that the 
concept of 'worthiness' is central, when an individual losses in quality of life, depending on 
constraints in contextual radius. These two concepts have been studied operationally. 

B. Bierschenk (1987b, 1988) used the three model societies in a couple of initial 
studies of quality of life. By means of a discriminant analysis this study has made a difference 
between the three models and Sweden as the participants' familiar context, in such a way that 
the highest quality of life is assigned to the Growth model whereas Sweden is judged to have 
less life quality. Bierschenk, Helmersson & Lohmander (1987) studied in a follow-up the way 
students of economic subjects conceived of how the three models could maintain their 
worthiness and increase their quality of life respectively. The results this time showed that the 
Swedish model, which earlier was conceived of as a week maintainer of life quality, instead 
scores higher on worthiness. 

A measuring instrument, which defines the perception of two ecological components, 
has been developed with multivariate statistics during a long period of time. One component 
specifies the development of worthiness ('Eigenvalue'), and one specifies the social visibility 
of some worthiness having been developed ('Visibility of social structure', later on termed 
'texture') (B. Bierschenk, 1989 a, b). The reliabilities accounted for concerning both 
dimensions are very high (alpha max = .97, .87) in relation to what is normally reported in 
behavioural science. 

This instrument, which is a paper and pencil test for the measurement of perceptual 
competence, could then be used to empirically define competence as a measure on civilisation 
(B. Bierschenk, 1992, 1995a) via the concept of consciousness. Thus competence is 
connected to quality of life. Without competence - no life quality. The instrument was 
possible to test in a study of Swedish and Danish gymnasium students' perceptual competence 
in conceiving the conditions of life in their society. The hypothesis was that "The 
development of Eigenvalue and its conservation by means of an appropriate 'Social Texture' 
requires an advanced civilisation" (B. Bierschenk, 1998, p. 18). 

Swedes and Danes were different in perceiving properties of both structure and 
texture. The Danes think that the Growth model best conserves Eigenvalue and that this 
model and the familiar society are similar. The Swedes on the contrary do not think that their 


own model is fostering Eigenvalue and that the positive properties are reflected in the 
Behaviour model. They could not differentiate between the surface (texture) dimensions of 
the models and the Swedish model. 

In the study mentioned above, seven Danish gymnasium schools participated. In a 
special study, which was a comparison between two Swedish gymnasium classes, some 
Danish classes and a group of Danish university students, the Danish gymnasium students 
now came out as unable to differentiate the three models from each other (Bierschenk & 
Marker, 1998). The result is remarkable, since the society models function discriminatively 
otherwise. This at the same time means that the students of this gymnasium may be unable to 
comprehend the contextual preconditions in order to be able to adapt their action patterns to 
the society they live in. Yet this school is regarded one of the best in Copenhagen, as seen to 
how the students perform by means of ordinary grading measures. 

The scale has been applied to Swedish gymnasium students (I. Bierschenk, 1998a), 
where they had to judge the certainty in their perception of the three models and Sweden 
before and after an instructional process. The first time, the Behaviour society was perceived 
as the only one with specified quality. The second time the Swedish society was perceived 
with highest certainty and at the same time that this society is Behaviouristic. Thus the 
students have learnt something about the society they live in through the instructional 
program. This means that quality of life, the way it is specified on and under the surface of 
society, is perceived differently depending on the competence of those who live there. 
Therefore, one has to assume that it will be possible to train for quality of life. 

Finally a study will be mentioned, which was carried out in collaboration with the 
University of Singapore, which arranged the first international conference on "Quality of Life 
in Cities" in March 1998. To a group of students (99 participants) in architecture and building, 
supervised by Belinda Yuen, the three model societies were projected. The purpose was to 
find out whether young people in Singapore perceive their own civilisation as qualitatively 
high, especially against the background that the city and state of Singapore wants to be a 
"City of Excellence", according to the visiting cards of the representatives. In the competition 
- success field of tension earlier mentioned Singapore was compared with Denmark 
(Bierschenk & Yuen, 1998). The hypothesis was that Singapore, in being a strongly regulated 
society, should be judged to be week with respect to the maintenance of Eigenvalue (here the 
competition dimension). 

It turned out that the two countries did not differ, despite some principled 
organisational differences. The conclusion drawn by the authors is that the Singaporeans have 
a "perceptual competence" in conceiving the qualities of their society, irrespective of the 
prevailing restrictions. Their basic idea is that a "city of excellence", that is, "competence", is 
a goal that may only be obtained through the voting of persons for important appointments of 
the society. The students in Singapore are conscious of the importance of studying and that 
their personal development contributes to civilian excellence (B. Bierschenk, 1999). 

4. 1 Demarcation and Specification 

It can be stated that the perception of a society - context, milieu - is dependent on the 
competence of the perceiver. A restricted context must not necessarily have any constraining 
influence on those who live and work there. The Singapore instance points to this clearly. The 
perceptual ability is the competence, which has great implications for the way a society 
educates and trains its citizens for the future. People, who are able to look through the 
regulations and for example perceive how a Humanist model is working structurally despite 
its surface properties of Behaviourism, have a potential and a flexibility, which should be 
taken advantage of. For society it must therefore be of utmost importance that we can find the 


key to the ways in which the educational system might be a springboard to competence 

The three basic paradigms, operationalised through the Behaviour, the Growth and the 
Humanist models, are used in the study of human behaviour from individual to civilisation. 
The first one, known to learning theorists, is the behaviourism or S-R theory. The second is, 
probably, known to technologists by the name of cybernetics or the process model, which is 
close to the functionalism. The third is the more humanistically defined structure model, also 
known as Gestalt theory. 

Each one of the three videos shows a civilisation, which builds on the scopes and 
constraints of each model in getting human and societal functions to coexist. They concretise 
the model by telling a story of about ten minutes. The stories are in short the following: 

Behaviour Model. A young man is found in a park and is rescued from under- 
nourishment. He is taken to hospital but suffers from amnesia. A story takes place in which 
society in the form of a physician and his assistant by behaviour modification try to adapt the 
young man to a collective. The loss of identity is central. 

Growth Model. A young man lives in a technically advanced society and is on his 
way into a modern city centre. He faces the vulnerability in a number of dysfunctions, which 
symbolise the constraints that are prevailing when the wishes of people and the capacity of 
society are interacting. The need for re-creation of life quality is concretised. 

Humanist Model. A young man arrives with a modern vehicle to an ecological forest 
plant. He gets a mentor, who is a scientist, and who will teach him to develop and get to know 
himself in collaboration with his environment. The entire developmental process is permeated 
with the feeling for worthiness. 

The material has been produced for instructional purposes at the upper secondary, 
college and university levels; its authors are university professors in behavioural science, 
social science, economy and technology. However, it is not clear from the descriptions (Lee & 
Mayor, 1976) whether the thinking in models really is reflected in the product, so that it 
carries the theoretical dimensions implied by the different models, even though this was the 
aim of the constructors. The studies on life quality already referred to could verify that the 
societies have operationalised the three scientific paradigms (behaviourism, process, 
structure) (B. Bierschenk, 1987b, p. 5, Table 1). This assessment was made by trained 
experts' conception of theoretical concepts in function. The stories to a high extent take place 
through dialogues and whether these, that is the verbal text in the story, had the same 
theoretical foundation was the topic for Elstrup Rasmussen (1997b, 1998). 

Elstrup Rasmussen carried out some field studies at a Danish industrial concern. In 
this connection the video material was to be used. He analysed the dialogues by means of 
Perspective Text Analysis and arrived at the conclusion that the structural concepts defeatism, 
encapsulation, shaping and mob could be read out from the dialogues, which corresponds 
perfectly with the behaviourism, according to Elstrup Rasmussen. In the model based on 
cybernetics some of the fundamental concepts of this theory emerged, namely exploration, 
competence, aggressiveness and balancing. The humanist society has got the structuralism in 
its roots, which was proved by assisted maturity, aha-experience and the achievement of the 

This theoretical, well-constructed material had an important function in two studies 
within an educational context, which are of basic significance for continuous research in 
competence development. 

An initial point of departure in higher education is a doctoral course (supervisor: 
Ingvar Persson) conducted at the Department of Industrial Organisation, Lund Institute of 
Science and Technology, the academic year 1987/88. The civil engineers were presented to 
the model characterised by Growth and were given the task to imagine that they lived in this 


environment and to describe this life by making a narrative or in some other significant way. 
The same task was given to theoretically working economists and professionals for a 
comparison. When competence was defined as the degree of consciousness of the conditions 
for survival in the competition of this society the following circumstances were shown by 
means of Perspective Text Analysis (B. Bierschenk, 1990a): 

The most conscious are the civil engineers. Their conduct towards the cybernetic way 
of functioning as realised by the model society is clearly rational. Even though they do not 
entirely embrace the underlying value system of the model they are able to adapt and through 
their competence see what is required from them according to the circumstances. The deepest 
concept in their graph is perspective shift, which has been interpreted as a dynamical conduct 
(p. 21). Doctoral students in business administration behave more in accordance with what is 
implied by persistence, because they are not inclined to adapt or are unable to. The 
professionals on the contrary express an ego-strength and keep alert and adaptable. 

The way competence was defined it is quite evident that the technologists' model 
sensitivity must be interpreted as social sensitivity, which implies that their education is well 
adapted to the reality that is waiting for them, if we presume that the Growth/Process model is 
characterising the Swedish society. The perceptive ability in these engineers and their 
context/environment meet at the same abstraction level, according to this study. Thus we need 
not speculate in personality, talent for or interest in the educational program, knowledge 
background, etc. Instead it is a matter of structural matches between context/environment and 
the single technologist, which he reproduces by his constructive text production. 

Another point of departure is an experiment in the comprehension of concepts in 
Swedish gymnasium students, which was carried out in connection with literature studies 
during the spring term 1997 (I. Bierschenk, 1997, 1998b). The course had as its purpose to 
instruct a hundred students from various study programs in modernistic ideas. A special 
interest was paid to the so-called "isms" in literature and art (such as the futurism, the 
surrealism and the expressionism) and their relation to the scientific concepts behaviourism, 
structuralism and functionalism. The students were asked to investigate how these concepts or 
ideas have been transformed into models of society (on video) as well as into pure literature 
(in novels). 

The three models differ in conceptual depth and thus they are unequally easy to 
transform into a society or into literature. In the course they were applied in such a way as to 
make the correspondence clear between the paradigms and the cultural and literary concepts 
(ideas) behind behaviourism, structuralism and functionalism. The program was terminated 
with a comprehension test. It consisted of 15 short texts (items), constructed so that each one 
was an indirect description of a modern literary/cultural concept in function. (A detailed 
account for the procedure is given in I. Bierschenk, 1997.) 

The comprehension of ideas, in the study defined as competence, was proved to be 
equal among students in natural science, social science and aesthetics. But the concepts differ 
in depth from one another. This was a result of a differentiation between concepts in relation 
to their degree of difficulty in comprehension (structural depth), as shown in the students' 
responses, and not a differentiation between classes. The degree of depth could be established 
by binding the concepts to the three paradigms, for which the structure was already known. 
By this the theoretical anchorage of the test could empirically be decided, which is important 
to the proposed research program. 

Without going into statistical matters, which have been presented elsewhere (I. 
Bierschenk, 1997, Table 4), it should be stressed that with this test a scale has been 
developed, which denotes four evolutionary steps or levels, which can be used to steer an 
instruction process or competence development program. The test on which the scale is based 
was developed during a long time and is founded on both studies of sources and experiments. 


With these studies as a basis, it may be stated that text materials used for instruction 
and testing in educational contexts have to be extremely well selected or constructed to 
correspond to the structure of the desired level, if competence is the aim of the instruction 
process. The idea has been introduced under the name of direction of materials (see section 
5.2). For this purpose there exists no measuring methodology so far. 

4.2 From Macro to Micro Level 

The studies and experiments reported which are related to the three social models and for 
which B. Bierschenk has developed a measuring instrument should be assigned to a macro 
level. The results, which have been extracted with this instrument, however carefully tested, 
are just indicative, that is, it may be more or less assumed that competence of some kind is to 
hand. Concepts, definitions, and other frames for interpretation are, moreover, decided outside 
the individual, who gives his responses to a given task. 

For the same reason the analyses carried out with Perspective Text Analysis should 
also be assigned to the macro level, since the prerequisites at the problem setting were the 
same. For sure, the analyses are structural in the sense that the individual perspective can 
emerge through a text production but its origin is still an external cause. The pre-condition of 
the new research program is that analysis and synthesis starts out from a micro level, which 
implies internal frames of interpretation. 

5. Toward a Theory of Materials Construction in the Humanities and Social Sciences 

The starting point for an investigation of the structure of a material is the cultural and 
scientific concepts, which could be experimentally bound to the three scientific paradigms 
mentioned and be grouped according to degree of difficulty (I. Bierschenk, 1997). It turned 
out that the scientific concepts, for example behaviour modification, cybernetics, and Gestalt, 
have properties, which are unequally difficult to apprehend and realise when they are put into 
function in a story. The results of the experiment thus give evidence for the assumption that 
the models are unequally difficult in depth. Swedish gymnasium students could most easily 
apprehend the Behaviour model and associate it with a good society, which gives Eigenvalue 
to its citizens. Against the background of the negative view on mankind put forward by this 
model, it is natural to ask what the students actually have understood (I. Bierschenk, 1998a). 

The reasoning in these studies is based on the assumption that competence is 
connected with civil comprehension, for which the reading of literature will be a bridge. The 
version used of model societies was a picture series, put onto VCR records together with 
sound. In what way pictures differ from text will not be discussed here. But it is evident that 
even if the text in the literary test mentioned which described the idea of behaviourism was 
easiest to give a correct answer to, it is not clear why. Against the background that Skinner, 
the author of the theory, has formulated the basis to the text, a given task would be to analyse 
this text to investigate into how it is constructed to give the answers it gave. That a text 
material in fact can be constructed so as to carry underlying theoretical information has been 
demonstrated in Elstrup Rasmussen (1997b, 1998). 

Other items in the test have been produced under different conditions than the Skinner 
text. In some cases they were constructed after careful research. In other cases the texts have 
been extracted from textbooks. In all cases the text in question is natural, and should carry a 
theory. The question is which structure has been established in the text. 

An important pre-condition for further analysis is that structure cannot be put onto the 
text a priori, it can only be discovered, for which we now have a method. With this method it 
will be possible to look into somebody's knowing and get answers to questions like: What did 


the theorist know, which we want the students to know? How is this knowing composed into 
informational invariants? And similarly: Have the students in their textual production been 
able to formulate the desirable knowing? Instead of differentiating students by their qualities, 
qualities in a material should be determined. In short - the purpose of continued research is to 
analyse the prerequisites of competence development on the basis of a material. A theory of 
materials construction for the humanities and social sciences would be a possible and 
desirable development with self-evident generalisation to other subject areas as a 

As has already been discussed, no method has existed, which has the capacity to make 
visible the internal factors governing and controlling a learning process or which can present 
what knowing consists of. With the proposed theory of material construction as basis it would 
be possible to manifest the effects of a learning process, that is, what someone knows. 
Knowing (or knowability, B. Bierschenk, 1984) is a phenomenon, which emerges through 
text building but has nothing to do with grammar (I. Bierschenk, 1984). The knowing is 
expressed in the teacher, the student, and the materials but at different structural depth and 
with different rotations when the process goes on. The text is central, spoken or written, and 
in this process it also constitutes the context for structuring of information. Thus the text is the 
learning environment of the micro level. 

Below some studies will be presented, which may serve as starting point to research 
on text materials with competence development purposes. 

5.1 The Knowing of a Behaviourist 

The first study of the theoretically defined text material concerned the fundamental 
idea of behaviourism the way it could have been applied by Skinner himself, for example in 
Walden Two. The question was, quite naturally, whether the theory, which is well-known, is 
reflected in the text, so that it could function as a reliable test item (about 50 words), 
measuring what it was intended to measure. I. Bierschenk (1999c,d) gives an analysis of the 
conceptual relations of the text and also the dimensionality expressed by the topological form 
of representation. The concepts denoting the dimension are given in parentheses. 

The study points at four very typical dimensions, one denoting machine-related terms 
{effectiveness, technology), one taking up the method aspect (working order), one 
representing design (shaping, trimming) and finally one standing for a rise in quality 
(refinement, representativeness). Thus Perspective Text Analysis had picked up the structure 
implied in behaviourism. 

The result is discussed in relation to a suitable application in teaching. Since the point 
of departure for the test had been the comprehension of cultural and scientific concepts 
transformed into literature, three literary examples are given of how materials could be 
selected depending on degree of difficulty, that is depth. Certain conceptual relations are 
matching certain novels. I discussed George Orwell's "1984", Alexander Solsjenitsyn's "Odin 
den Ivana Denisovitja (A Day in Ivan Denisovitj's Life)" and Karin Boye's "Kallocain". The 
three novels are examples of the way the concept 'refinement' is deepened. In Orwell's novel 
it can be studied in its social context, where the model is stronger than the individual. The 
contrast is given in Solsjenitsyn, where focus is on self-refinement through inner exile, 
making the individual stronger than the model. Boye gives a perspective from inside about 
what happens within and between individuals when the system is demoralising life. 

In this study it is shown that structural control from the part of the teacher would steer 
the selection of materials. As a consequence, the teacher is spared from the heavy task to 
decide on the amount of text and the student would get a clear information on what is required 
of him at a certain level. But this requires that level will be connected to a grading system. 


5.2 The Hidden Competence 

The concept of structuralism belongs to the deepest of the tested ideas and is therefore 
very difficult to encompass to a gymnasium student. To read Kafka is a venture, for example, 
since the discussion easily lands in the surface bound, organisational aspects of society and 
human conditions, an evidence that structure only with difficulty can be mastered by students 
of gymnasium age. A cultural expression of structuralism is the expressionism, which among 
other things comprises chaos, anxiety, and conflict in a mental sense. Another expression is 
the psychological concept of Gestalt, which is more holistic as a theory of human 
development and almost the opposite of behaviourism. At this cutting edge lies the concept of 
'war', which, when applied, functions as a destructive force within the Gestalt. Much of this is 
reflected in the modern war novel (e. g. Remarque, Linna, and Trumbo). To test the 
understanding of such a text at a deeper level may thus be a task to give for a diagnosis 
without having to consider the deepest dimensions of structuralism. 

One study (I. Bierschenk, 2000b) presents an attempt to start a process in a number of 
concepts from a structure, taken from a text (about 25 words) by Machiavelli. The structure 
was used as criterion for a writing task in the gymnasium school. Here a process is simulated, 
in which the teacher gives the students the task to explain the war novel they just read by 
using the words parrying, challenge, and risk. With the help of these words they write a short 
text, which the teacher analyses by means of Perspective Text Analysis and then compares 
against his own key. If the two structures match, then the students have passed the criterion 
and consequently the test. The deepest concept should circle around mastery. 

One student is selected for control. The student has not qualified so far, which means 
that he has received the grade IG (not passed) on the preceding course. The test correction 
now shows that this student did well on the diagnosis. His concepts of solution, resistance, 
and preparedness lead to the deepest concept capability. It gives the teacher the answer: This 
student understands the deep dimensions of the novel. Even though he is not qualified, he is 
competent. The competence is hidden in the text he produced and was disclosed by the 
method of analysis. 

The result leads to a discussion of judgements of qualifications and competence 
respectively and the consequences for a modern educational system (compare McClelland, 
1973). The report states that this is a step to take, if one wants to underpin the idea that the 
Swedish school has as its aim to centre round the single student's ability and responsibility. 
The method is well adapted to point at the unique quality in every individual person and not in 

5.3 The Natural Scientist and the Question of Education 

There is an academic discussion going on about the education of minds (Kj0rup, 
1999). The question of the role of the humanities was taken into consideration (I. Bierschenk, 
2000a) against the background that many debaters argue in favour of the educating role of the 
humanities in the development of a society and its citizens. Within natural science there is an 
awareness that humanistic values are important building blocks to reach a comprehensive 
knowledge of the world (Sj0berg, 1999). Therefore, drastic measures are taken to lure female 
students to attend the technological programs, so that the male students may gain from those 
female aspects of life that they are lacking. 

As part of a course in literature in the gymnasium school, the question of natural 
science education was connected with the question of moral development by the study of 
novels with a technical-futuristic theme. The futurism was a cultural ism in the beginning of 
the 20 th century, which supported progress in every form. In this study, the futurism was 


redefined to mean a social dimension and in this way it was possible to assume that the 
futurist novel as a genre would be educating to the extent that the author succeeded in 
mediating the intrinsic moral value of a society. 

The basis for the study of the concepts of futurism was a test item (45 words), just 
describing social development in the light of modern genetics and its results. In connection 
with this part of the course a number of novels with a critical outlook were studied, among 
others "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley, "En levande sjal (A Living Soul)" by P C 
Jersild and "The Hand Maid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood. The test item was analysed with 
Perspective Text Analysis and was found to contain among other things a dimension denoting 
a social climate, whose concepts public morality was closest to the research problem 
formulated. With the help of this one and two more words the students of two classes got the 
task to give their explanations of the novels. 

Is the natural scientist capable of contributing to education by representing public 
morality? The topological analysis showed that the deeper embedded concepts, which 
constitute the basis of a moral concept, are only present in Huxley, who was also a natural 
scientist. This means that "Brave New World" is the one, which has had an effect on the 
understanding of a civilisation ideology. In P C Jersild, trained physician, there are more of 
personal attitudes of political kind manifested. Is there an educational effect, it is unclear. 
Atwood, who represents the humanities in this selection, puts forward in her vision of a future 
society the horror methods, which makes her novel unreliable in relation to morality, seen as 
scientifically based education. Reading pure literature gives both cultural and general 
education, is an opinion among the responsible administrators. Which are the governing 
principles for selection? 

5.4 The Measurement of an Idea in Function 

A research question, which could be answered with Perspective Text Analysis, is 
whether the structure of a material corresponds to the conventional view. If the teacher 
describes and explains texts from out of routine study of the subject theory and this is proved 
to be misleading, this should have consequences both for the students' learning but also for 
the way they are examined. One example is the common picture of Ernest Hemingway's 
writing style. In being a modernist he is assumed to have acquired some modern scientific 
concept or cultural idea and transformed it into literary form. The concept associated with him 
is the behaviourism. 

The 1920's in America were permeated by functionalistic ideas, whose expression at 
the experimental level was manifested as behaviourism. Thus it was assumed (I. Bierschenk, 
2001) in an experiment on a Hemingway text that the writer is functionalist in mind (the 
ideational level) but behaviourist in practise, that is, at the textual level. This means that the 
experiment was intended to separate the two levels, just as it may be done in the "Visual cliff 
experiment: The design is functionalistic and the events on the glass top can be described in 
behaviouristic terms. 

By an analysis of a portion of the dialogue of about 20 lines in "The Killers" of 1927 
(Hemingway, 1977) and a representation of the space of the text it could be shown that the 
text is very "flat", that is, it does not extend under the sea line. Moreover, the orienting space 
of the text was separated from the intentional space, which resulted in two spaces with very 
similar shape. It is natural however, that intention and orientation in a text act complementary 
to each other in an asymmetric way. Thus the writer has consciously designed the textual 
surface so that it would be as symmetrical as possible, to avoid that any depth or implicitness 
will be the result from reading. The analysis shows that the method functions precisely. 


A further analysis (by means of radians) informed that the conceptual relations quite 
evidently are related to a functionalistic-behaviouristic sphere of ideas. Pain, built up by 
exposure and threat are the most concentrated concepts at the orientational level, 
corresponding to what the infants perceive at the virtual cliff. This level could be separated 
from the intentional (ideational) level, where pain returns but now is built up by threat and 
firmness. The experimental designer is clearly emerging on the ideational level. Evidently, 
Hemingway with functionalistic firmness has modelled his literary figures' exposure at 
Henry's bar. 

When this analysis was performed the method had been developed to take care of the 
angled articulation typical of a perspective (B. Bierschenk, 2000; I. Bierschenk, 2000c). This 
development was well suited for testing the hypothesis, that Hemingway is a functionalist and 
not a behaviourist. The analysis further showed that the functionalistic ideas are permeating 
both the structure as well as the spatial development of the text. A function is something 
purely abstract and the articulation forms a right angle, which in strict mathematical terms is 
meaningless. But despite that the text is just a skeleton, just like the result for the fisherman 
Santiago in "The old man and the sea", there is a structure, which the analysis method has 
revealed. It is quite natural that this structure denotes the core of functionalism. A result over 
and above this is that the so-called iceberg technique, which is a common description of 
Hemingway's style, cannot be confirmed. There is no iceberg, if one means that the larger 
portion of the textual meaning is to be found under the surface. It may be that it is the reader's 
projection that produces the hidden meaning, if there is any. 

A second experiment was made on the test item, which was intended to describe the 
concept of functionalism in the form of a short situation in the earlier mentioned 
comprehension study (I. Bierschenk, 1997). It had been difficult for the students to separate 
this item from the one describing the behaviourism. It turned out that the intended idea really 
is described as well as possible, since both a behaviour component and the functional 
(ideational) component were possible to distinguish from one another. The behaviour level 
generated concepts, which were concentrated in purity whereas the ideational level turned out 
to consist of design related concepts, which concentrated into transparency. 

The conclusion is that the two texts, despite their being different in purpose and genre 
and having been constructed with an interval of seventy years, carry an invariant structure of 
the idea of functionalism. The experiment further shows that the constructor of a material 
always will have his input into the structure, whether he is aware of it or not. As to text 
materials this could not until now be demonstrated when by means of Perspective Text 
Analysis we have been able to separate intention from orientation. 

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Accepted March 20, 2001 

Author's Note 

The preparation of this research summary has been financed by The Ruben Rausing 
Foundation for Enterprising and Innovation, Sweden. 

Information concerning the method Perspective Text Analysis is to be found in articles 
published in Cognitive Science Research, which to a very high degree is reviewed and 
available by ERIC. Correspondence may be sent to Inger Bierschenk, Copenhagen 
Competence Research Centre, Copenhagen University, Njalsgade 88, DK-2300, Copenhagen 
S, Denmark or via E-mail to INGER@